Some unashamed gloating

Discussion in 'Samovar Teahouse' started by owenpolley, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. owenpolley

    owenpolley Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    In the absence of a sports section I'll post my belated gloat here, which, as someone with a deep interest in and sympathy for Russia, I hope you'll allow me.

    This day last week, at Windsor Park in Belfast, my national football team, from a tiny little speck on the world's map called Northern Ireland, beat the largest country in the world 1-0. That's Northern Ireland (populated by 1.6 million people, covering an area of 13,000 odd square kilometres, ranked 109 by FIFA) 1 Russia (with a population of 144,000,000, spanning over 17,000,000 square km and ranked 19th by FIFA) 0.

    What made this all the sweeter was that the Russian team's manager, Fabio Capello, ahead of the previous fixture in Moscow, had declined to select another striker, when injuries had reduced his squad, explaining that it was "only Northern Ireland" Russia was playing. Last Thursday morning the Belfast Telegraph's front-page headline read "Only Northern Ireland 1-0 Russia".

    Contrary to the common stereotypes about Russian football fans, those I met in Belfast last Wednesday evening were gracious about their defeat (even the ones with curious views about their national flag and some of their fellow countrymen), just as they'd been gracious in victory almost a year ago in Moscow.

    Still, in a spirit of some triumphalism and channeling the words of a famous Norwegian football commentator:

    Ivan Grozny, Alexander Pushkin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Marshall Zhukov, Leo Tolstoy, Lenin - we have beaten them all, we have beaten them all - Vladimir Putin, can you hear me Vladimir Putin? Your boys took a hell of a beating!
    AKarlin likes this.
  2. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    No wonder the N.I. team won if those people were playing for the Russian side!

    What with Ivan Grozny (b. 1530), Alexander Pushkin (b. 1799), Dmitri Mendeleev (b.1834), Marshall Zhukov (b.1896), Leo Tolstoy (b. 1828) and Lenin (b. 1870), their ages average out at 226 years old, Marshall Zhukov being the youngest of the bunch at a sprightly 117 years of age.
  3. gbordakov

    gbordakov Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Yes you have beaten them all in football and no surprise you have beaten Putin too. He is only into judo, which BTW means a "gentle way" in Japanese. No matter how much Russia wants to brag her football presence the team's head coach name, that is Fabio Capello rather than Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, says something. It says that second letter in BRICS is not like first at all. How about that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chessboxing for real Russian sport.
  4. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Evidently Notre Dame are mere poncy pretenders to the sobriquet, "The Fighting Irish". Well done.

    The possibility of having a lucky day, or sometimes just a lucky moment, and trouncing a team rated much higher in the rankings is one of the major draws in team sports. However, rankings are compiled on solid statistics, and the chances of the same upset occurring twice are pretty slim, although some countries like to think such an incident says something about the national character. A good example is the Lake Placid "Miracle on Ice", which the Americans are still talking about and which Sports Illustrated named the Top Sports Moment of the 20th century.

    I don't think you would find too many Russians who would refuse to join in a celebration of anyone's victory if they were warmly invited. Russians enjoy a celebration, and they know there's always next time.
  5. owenpolley

    owenpolley Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    Mark - very true. For perpetual underdogs these nights come along very infrequently, but they're always celebrated enthusiastically.

    Mind you over the past 8 years, in Belfast, Northern Ireland have beaten England, Spain (the team which went on to win a World Cup and 2 European Championships), Sweden, Denmark and Poland. So the surprise factor should be beginning to wear thin.

    I take the point that Russia has not always performed well in football. Still, the Russian Football Championship is awash with cash, top teams and top players and there are some genuine world stars in the national team. In fact Russia has been among the most exciting teams in the past couple of European Championships, but failed to get the results it deserved.
  6. Hero of Crappy Town

    Hero of Crappy Town Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Northern Ireland is a footballing nation. Russians are no chumps at football but it isn't quite the obsession that it is in Britain. Also Norn Ireland has nearly 2 million people which isn't that few. Croatia has 4 million and is currently ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings, above Brazil and England. Montenegro has 0.5 million and is ranked 28th, above Ukraine and Sweden.

    I'm saying this self-patronizing (oooh we're such a tiny nation, but we beat the giant Russians) is more than a little bit silly, as many nations achieve more and go about it without blowing smoke up their own arses for it in the sense of weighing their accomplishments against their small size.
  7. gbordakov

    gbordakov Office Registrar (13th class)

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    I would just say that in view of hoardes of fans and waterfall of cash in Russian football and with population about 300 times than that of Montenegro Russia's (and USSR's) success in football is far too modest. I think that should be something in the national character that explains this. And I believe it is variability, that is infamous Russian adage to forgo the plan and fix everything in the last minute. And I believe that Northern Ireland game incident demonstrates this.
    That is why I compared football with hockey. Big league hockey game won at the last couple of minutes with preceding score like 0:3 is not a great surprise (while could be called a miracle). In football it would really be miracle.
  8. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    In countries with well developed commercial football, trianing for the national side takes second place to training for the club. So the national side can take the field with 11 brilliant players but no team (to state teh extreme case). In a smaller country, although the best players now pay far away, often, at some time during their youth, they played together. In Germany where football is not a fanatically supported, players get time with the national team, so Germany plays a team not a collection of prima donnas. When Wales beat Russia, the only Welsh player generally known was Ryan Giggs. The Russians were complacent. Seems that they have to relearn this lesson.
  9. owenpolley

    owenpolley Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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